My Pastor this Sunday was talking in part; about success in his sermon, which prompted some questions for me:

What is success? How do we determine our own success? What makes a Christian successful? And is it any different than what makes a non-Christian successful?

So I got thinking about what I believe to be success, and I was reminded of a poem I have typed out and is now in my exercise room. It says:

“To Laugh often, and loved much;

To win the respect of intelligent people, and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics, and endure the betrayal of friends;

To appreciate beauty;

To find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, or a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;

To know that even one life has breathed easier because you lived.

This is to have success”- Unknown.

(Original version was written by Bessie Anderson Stanley -born Caroline Elizabeth Anderson)

The original version is longer, and very good. I am not sure who wrote the shortened version, it’s clearly an adaptation of the original, but I like both.  If you want to read the full version just Google her name and you should find it, or Google “Success Poem”.

When I read this poem I thought “Yeah, I think that’s about right … that is what I think is success”. Not surprising that a poem on success written by a woman might resonate with another woman. However, I am sure many men would also say the same things make up success.  The question of success and what it all means in the “Big Picture”, has been on my mind as I continue down this journey of change with God.

What I mean is that, I went back to school to be a nurse, and now I am looking at a whole new future most likely as I can tell, without nursing in it. I thought I would be “successful” in my career by now, which, by default, means successful in life. But that is not where I am, well, according to the world anyway.

After hearing the sermon and thinking about my own views of success and its meaning for me. I realised that as a Christian woman my view of success is really what God determines it is for me not anything else.  So, the world may see my inability to do nursing after going to school for it, as a failure, but does that me I should? Does that mean God does? I don’t think so.

Since I have been off, I have lost weight (and still going), decreased stress overall, decreased medications, increased energy, increased joy, increased time doing things I love, like my art, increased my husband’s happiness, and increased my faith and relationship with God.

Those may not be “success” by some people’s standards, but I see them as success. No, we don’t have money, and that is something that causes me anxiety at times, But God has been meeting needs, and I believe he will continue to do so until I reach the place he wants me to be, and until he gives me the job he wants for me. What has really come to me from thinking about this is that as a Christian, my standard of “Success” should not be based in anyone but Gods view. The worlds view is a screwed up view that trying to achieve, makes people stressed, unhappy, and always striving, and for what? The bible says we are not to store things up here but in Heaven because that’s the place we should worry about, and by focusing on Heavenly “Success” we will achieve joy and happiness and true “Success”.

I notice that Christians that view “Success” as a monetary achievement, or social achievement, or social recognition, place themselves at odds with the principles of God. For example, I know Christian people that run businesses and due to their desire to become “successful” and by their view that means wealthy.  They have bent the rules, been dishonest, invested in things that are decidedly Un-Christian and actually detrimental to society, chosen to ignore things they know are not right or legal, just to keep others happy and bring in that mighty dollar.

Not surprising that Jesus said,

“Truly I tell you, it is difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19: 23-24 

 Our view of success and how we have to achieve it has a large impact on how we live as Christians.  Whatever you view success to be, if it’s not based on Christian values (Gods values) it can lead a Christian to do things non-Christian to achieve it, and that’s the problem.  If our view is based on God’s values, and we go forward being true to what he says is how a Christian should conduct ourselves, we will be truly successful.

I see Christian people that feel, for example that their business life and their Christian life are separate. That is why they feel it is okay not to do all the legal stuff required, or to mislead, or lie to get what they want. They tell themselves “It’s just business”. Well I think if  that was the way God sees it , Jesus wouldn’t have gotten angry and  turned over the money lenders tables in the temple” after all if the idea of  “It’s just business” is acceptable to the Lord, there wouldn’t have been any reason for Jesus to be angry with them.

For myself, I concluded that being the best Christian, wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend I can be is success. When someone calls me to ask me a question because they know I will do my utmost best to give them an accurate, and honest answer I am successful.  When my daughter comes to me for help on something because she feels I will do my best to help her, I am successful. When my family, and friends ask me my opinion because they believe I will give them wise advice; that is success. When my husband shares his lunch with his co-workers because he wants them to taste the lunch his loving wife made him; that is success. When others ask me to support them in doing, or making decisions about, something difficult because they believe I will do the hard, but right thing; that is success. Most of all; when I make decisions or do something only after seeking God s word, praying to him, and based on his promptings; I am successful.

I believe when we focus on God’s idea of what our success is to be we will find more joy, peace, and real success. I think we then may see the Lord bless us in both spiritual and physical ways, and I think we haven’t a clue how God may pour out his pleasure on us. We may never see a life where money is over flowing, but we may.  However, we won’t care either way, because our focus is on God, and not the things of this world anymore, and that I think brings real success.

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